30 months behind bars for Port Clinton bar fight

PORT CLINTON Jarmearl Montgomery twice failed to show up in court this summer to face sentencing for a viole
Sarah Weber
May 24, 2010

PORT CLINTON

Jarmearl Montgomery twice failed to show up in court this summer to face sentencing for a violent bar assault that left an Oak Harbor man clinging to life.

But he was there Thursday in an orange prison uniform, having been recently picked up on a warrant near Cleveland.

Montgomery, 23, most recently of Warrensville Heights, agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of failure to appear in exchange for prosecutors dropping the second count. He previously entered a guilty plea to attempted aggravated assault, a fifth-degree felony, which was reduced from two aggravated assault charges.

Ottawa County Judge Bruce Winters sentenced Montgomery to 18 months in prison for failure to appear and 12 months for the assault. The sentences are ordered to run consecutively.

Montgomery was one of three men charged in a bar brawl at Nick's Road House in Port Clinton in early April. Tim Nowak, 50, suffered a shattered skull during the fight and came close to death. After a few days on the brink of death in intensive care, he started an unexpected recovery.

His wife, Sue, sat in court Thursday afternoon for Montgomery's sentencing. She said she was grateful for the many prayers from community members, and credited them with her husband's relatively quick recovery.

She said after intensive therapy, he is now back at home. Doctors and hospital staff have called him a "miracle man," she said.

The brawl, captured on a fuzzy surveillance videotape, shows about 20 people in the bar when a large scuffle breaks out. Montgomery, in a striped shirt, jumps into the scuffle and can be seen in the video whipping a beer bottle in the direction of where Nowak fell to the floor. Later he got on a table, flashed what witnesses called a gang sign, jumped down and did a dance.

"The video is enlightening to the court," Winters said to Montgomery. "In looking at those involved, you were not provoked by anyone, you were not attacked by anyone. It appears you got into the fight because it looked like fun."

Prosecutor Mark Mulligan said given Montgomery's extensive prior record and failure to appear in court, he was not a good candidate for probation.

"There is absolutely no potential for this defendant to be successful for a short period of time on probation, let alone the type of supervision this individual would need to become law-abiding," Mulligan said.

Montgomery's attorney, Howard Whitcomb, said the young father of four has drug and alcohol problems and a ninth-grade education. He suggested an intensive prison program, such as boot camp, might help get Montgomery on the right track.

Winters said he would not immediately recommend Montgomery for boot camp-type rehabilitation. He promised to monitor how Montgomery does in prison, and revisit the possibility of boot camp later.

Montgomery apologized to Sue Nowak for his role in the fight and to the court for not abiding by the terms of his pre-sentence release.

"First of all, I'm going to let it be known I feel really bad right now and I don't care what people might think about me," he said. "I take full responsibility even if it's for other people... I feel like it's time for me to stand up for my own actions, even if I didn't do it and even if I did."

He said life's been a struggle for him with few family members or friends to rely on, but he's ready to take responsibility for himself.

"Whatever (sentence) I get, just like I said, Karma always comes back tenfold," he said, "because all the stuff I thought I was going to get away with, it caught up, and here I am."